A Federal Election Commission (FEC) complaint was filed on Dec. 10 against Bloomberg News after the outlet said it would be investigating President Donald Trump but none of the Democrats running to try to win the 2020 election.
A top editor at the outlet made the announcement on Nov. 24 after Democratic presidential candidate, former New York City Mayor, and Bloomberg News owner Michael Bloomberg, 77, announced he was running for the presidency.
The complaint to the commission, or the FEC, was filed by the Media Research Center and its president, Brent Bozell.
“Bloomberg News’s decision to avoid investigating the Candidate may constitute an improper contribution to the Campaign under FEC regulations and appears to violate FECA regulations, and/or establish Bloomberg News as a political committee required to register and report under FEC regulations, which it has not done,” the complaint states (pdf).
Bozell in a statement said that “Bloomberg News is making a mockery of legitimate journalism.”
“They have consciously chosen to abandon their journalistic responsibilities in favor of what is politically convenient,” he added.
“This is a public declaration that Bloomberg’s newsroom is adopting media bias as an official policy. This is not only categorically unethical but potentially illegal, which is why we are calling for an investigation.”
According to its website, the research center is a media watchdog that works “to expose and neutralize the propaganda arm of the Left: the national news media.”
John Micklethwait, editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News, said in a lengthy memo on Nov. 24 that it would “continue our tradition of not investigating Mike (and his family and foundation.)”
“We will extend the same policy to his rivals in the Democratic primaries. We cannot treat Mike’s democratic competitors differently from him,” Micklethwait wrote, a courtesy not extended to Trump.
The decision attracted widespread attention. Former FEC Commissioner Hans von Spakovsky told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the policy “raises concerns under federal campaign finance law.”
“They’re only going to be covering one opposing candidate, and that’s Donald Trump… if they’re not willing to do any negative stories that might come up about Mike, whereas they are about Trump, then they’re directly helping his campaign,” he said.
A union representing employees at the Bloomberg Industry Group said Micklethwait’s decision amounted to “silencing journalists.” The Trump campaign said it wouldn’t credential Bloomberg News until the policy changes. Multiple Bloomberg employees have spoken out, though none appeared to have quit over the restrictions.
Bloomberg addressed the issue for the first time over the weekend, saying: “We have, just have to learn to live with some things. They get a paycheck. With your paycheck comes some restrictions and responsibilities.”
Rivals have weighed in on the matter, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
“Freedom of the press is one of the most important values in our country. A reporter’s coverage of candidates for the highest office shouldn’t be determined by one of the candidates controlling their paychecks,” she said in a statement.